October 13, 2020 – Tuesday of the 28th Week in Ordinary Time
Click here fore the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/101320.cfm)
As human response of love, FAITH, (see https://adoseofgodtoday.com/2020/10/09/faith-a-human-response-of-love/) goes beyond obligation or from the letters of the law. What does it mean? To understand this better, let us see a bit deeper the encounter of Jesus with the Pharisee.
In the today’s Gospel passage, Luke tells us that a Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him in his house. This Pharisee must have heard a lot about Jesus, his preaching and miracles. He wanted to see Jesus personally and to see the ways of Jesus. However, these group of people, Pharisees, were hostile to Jesus. They were always looking for faults in Jesus that they can use against him.
The Pharisees were known in the Jewish society at that time of Jesus who observed strictly the traditional and written law of Moses. Indeed, they were known to follow the law up to its most trivial law like in washing before meal and of the dishes. However, these people were filled with pretentions and superiority. They developed such practices to be praised and recognized by the people.
Thus, the integrity of their faith was in question. The sincerity of their action was doubtful. This was something that Jesus wanted them to realize. Jesus wanted this people to see that our relationship with God is not tied up in following the minutest detail of the law. Having faith is not about making others look us up because of the many trivial rituals we do. To have faith is never about becoming self-righteous and superior from others.
Hence, Jesus confronted the Pharisee because Jesus knew his heart. The amazement of the Pharisee when Jesus did not observed the prescribed washing before the meal, was born out of disgust to a person who did not follow the law like him. However, this was the chance of Jesus to teach the Pharisee an important lesson.
Jesus pointed out the plunder and evil in the heart of these people while making themselves good and honorable in front of the public. This means that what they were after was not to please and worship God but to make people worship them.
What is more important is not our good image before the public but our heart that expresses our goodness, generosity and love.
This is basically what St. Paul is telling us in his letter to the Galatians. Similar to the Pharisee, the Jewish Christians wanted to retain the law of circumcision for the non-Jewish Christians. They wanted the non-Jewish to submit to this law because they believed that they can only be a true believer if they observe such law like them. This became a conflict in the early Christian Community to which Paul intervened.
Only faith working through love! If faith does not do good to others but suppresses and restricts a person to become life-giving, then, it is not faith at all, but a self-serving belief. Because faith is a human response of love to God who first loved us, then, faith naturally expresses love to God and to others. When our actions and thoughts would only serve our ego, for the preservation of our good-image, to seek praise and approval from others, then, it is surely not of faith.
This is what Jesus calls us today. Let our faith in Jesus express love and only love. Never be afraid to express love because when it is expressed it is surely liberating for us and for others. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR